Outfielders Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh continue to top the list of Angels prospects

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Jack Harris
·5 min read
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Los Angeles Angels center fielder Jo Adell throws during a spring training baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Angels center fielder Jo Adell throws during a spring training game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on March 4. (Matt York / Associated Press)

While the Angels stumbled to their sixth straight season missing the playoffs in 2020, minor league field coordinator Chad Tracy witnessed the team's future blossom a few miles up the road.

At the team’s alternate training site in Long Beach, Tracy worked with many of the club’s top prospects, compensating for the loss of a minor league season with a uniquely structured camp.

“They just got a lot of individual attention while they were there,” Tracy said. “And they got a lot better.”

That work has translated to an encouraging spring training performance from several top prospects, leading manager Joe Maddon to repeatedly insist the farm system — which most outlets rank in the bottom-third of MLB — is underrated.

Here are 10 of the most promising names.

1. Jo Adell (OF): After a bumpy Angels debut in 2020, Adell got better as this spring unfolded. Despite a slow start offensively and several mistakes in the outfield, Maddon saw notable improvements in Adell’s powerful swing and praised his ability to work at-bats (Adell had two homers and six walks in 16 games). The 21-year-old will start the season in triple A but could be a midseason call-up candidate.

“He’s been getting on the machines and challenging himself, trying to get into good positions, be able to recognize spin and velocity,” Angels hitting coach Jeremy Reed said. “There’s a lot to say about a kid who struggled his first time [in MLB] and is working hard to make the proper adjustments.”

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2. Brandon Marsh (OF): Marsh, 23, was limited to hitting-only for most of camp because of a shoulder injury — his second-straight injury-restricted spring. Still, Maddon has said Marsh could make his MLB debut sometime this season after the outfielder went four for 14 in the Cactus League with two triples. “I really like his swing a lot,” Maddon said.

3. Reid Detmers (LHP): The Angels’ 2020 first-round pick out of Louisville had only two Cactus League outings, but was slowly stretched out further as a starter in several B games. Detmers, 21, hasn’t played a minor league game yet, but developed by facing triple-A and MLB-caliber hitters at the alternate site. “That’s good for a player, to realize the margin for error as you move up the ladder in the minor leagues, it starts to shrink,” Tracy said.

4. Chris Rodriguez (RHP): Healthy again after a long-term back injury, Rodriguez gave up four runs and struck out 10 this spring, flashing mid-to-upper 90s fastball velocity and quality breaking pitches in his first live action since 2019. In the short term, Maddon thinks Rodriguez, 22, could be an effective reliever and said he’s in the mix for the opening day bullpen, though Maddon didn’t rule out the right-hander’s long-term potential as a starter.

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5. Jordyn Adams (OF): Adams only had one hit in the Cactus League (a long home run) but was praised by coaches for his physical development and play in the field. It’s a carry-over from what Tracy saw last year: “The attitude he came in with, the intensity with which he would go out and shag fly balls, he started really paying attention to the little things and how much they matter, how much they mean.”

6. Jeremiah Jackson (INF): The 2018 second-round pick didn’t record a hit in the Cactus League, but Maddon was still impressed with the 21-year-old’s bat speed and raw power. “The rub has been that he has some swing-and-miss in him. A lot of young guys do,” Maddon said. “But when he makes contact, it’s pretty firm.”

7. Kyren Paris (INF): The youngest player at last year’s alternate site, Paris learned “not just from the baseball side of things,” Tracy said, “but from the mentorship that our older players provided.” Only 19 years old, the 2019 second-round pick wasn’t in major league camp this spring. His only three professional games so far came in the rookie-level Arizona League in 2019.

8. Jack Kochanowicz (RHP): A lanky 6-foot-6 right-hander drafted in the third round in 2019, Kochanowicz has yet to pitch in a professional game. However, the 20-year-old was also at the alternate site and got more work during the Angels instructional league. After Detmers and Rodriguez, Kochanowicz is ranked by several outlets as the club’s third-best pitching prospect.

9. Hector Yan (LHP): Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, Yan was the first prospect cut from major league camp this spring after his velocity was down, according to Maddon. “There's something there that maybe I really think could be rectified,” Maddon said of Yan, who turns 22 next month. “When he was 2-3 mph quicker, the hitter reaction was entirely different.”

10. Arol Vera (INF): The switch-hitting Vera is one of several prospects — including D’Shawn Knowles, Jose Bonilla, Alexander Ramirez, David Calabrese, Davis Daniel and others — who has yet to play for a full-season affiliate. He signed out of Venezuela with the Angels for a reported $2 million in 2019.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.